Wine in literature

Wine is inherent to the history of Western civilization. References to this beverage appear in the earliest writings of mankind. Such was the importance given to it that it soon became part of the trade routes and, throughout the Mediterranean basin, its cultivation began with each new settlement made by the Phoenicians, Greeks or Carthaginians. Not much later, the Romans continued with these practices and even, in order to fix the population in the new conquered regions, they gave land for the cultivation of vines to their soldiers when they retired from their armies after twenty years of service.

This close link has been maintained to the present day. It has been part of beliefs and religions, from pagan festivals, bacchanals… to its primordial role in the Eucharist. Also, over the centuries, of the society and its customs, of the economy and trade and, of course, also of our culture.

In April, more specifically on the 23rd, Book Day is celebrated. It is not a date chosen at random, since it is the date on which the deaths of Miguel de Cervantes, William Shakespeare and the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega coincide. Authors in which wine is very present in their works.

In the case of the author of Don Quixote and, precisely in this work, we find ample references, within the everyday life that wine enjoyed in the day-to-day life of the time. Throughout the text, they miss him in his absence and esteem and extol him in his presence. Without forgetting to advise its consumption with moderation, as when Don Quixote interpellates to his squire: “Be temperate in your drinking, considering that wine neither keeps too much secret nor keeps its word” (Part II, Chapter XLIII). (Part II, Ch. XLIII).

Among Cervantes’ favorite wines, which must have been many given the praises he praises them in his works, the whites of San Martín de Valdeiglesias, those of Ciudad Real (which included vineyards in other towns in La Mancha), or the wines of Ribadavia, among many others, stand out.

Such is the case, and shows the taste he has for them, that he puts in the mouth of his noble character the following consideration: “Is it not good, squire, that I have such a great and natural instinct for knowing wines, that, when I smell any wine, I know the homeland, the lineage, the flavor, the taste and the hardness and the turns it has to give, with all the circumstances related to wine” (Part II, Chapter XIII)?

If we leave La Mancha, to pass to the other side of the English Channel, we will find another of the most distinguished figures of world literature, William Shakespeare. Wine is present in his works, especially in the hand of a key character: Falstaff.

The English author uses wine to play with different climaxes, sometimes emphasizing, sometimes relaxing and sometimes as a trigger for the drama, but always within a faithful reflection of his time and in which wine to England has to be imported, because it was not possible to grow it there, which leads to its increase in price and makes it an exclusive drink of the nobility and the upper classes.

Falstaff’s dashing character, who always wants to live well and drink better, spares no praise for wine, more specifically sherry. Famous is his soliloquy in which he extols the double effect of sherry, both for our brain and for our body, or as when he proclaims: “If I had a thousand children, the first human principle I would teach them would be to proscribe all light drinking and dedicate themselves to good wine”.

Although the work of Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, the first great mestizo writer who universalized the union of American and European cultures, was not prolific in drama or novels, wine is still present in his writings. Thus, in his main work, Los Comentarios Reales, he narrates the vicissitudes of bringing vines and wines to America.

To the mentioned work corresponds the following text: “To the plant of Noah they give the honor to Francisco de Caravantes, old conqueror of the first ones of Peru, native of Toledo, noble man. This gentleman, seeing the land with some seat and stillness, sent to Spain for a plant; and the one who came for it, to take it fresher, took it from the Canary Islands, of the black grape, and so all the red grape came out, and the wine is all aloque, not entirely red, and although they have already taken many other plants, even the muscatel, but with all that there is still no white wine”.

Or when he mentions Captain Bartolomé de Terrazas, who “planted a vineyard in his Indian settlement, called Achanquillo, in the province of Cuntusuyu, from where, in the year of one thousand five hundred and fifty-five, to show the fruit of his hands and the liberality of his spirit, he sent thirty Indians, loaded with very beautiful grapes, to Garcilaso de la Vega, my lord, his close friend”.

From Familia Martínez Bujanda we want to join the celebrations of the World Book Day, recommending you any work of these authors. Among all our range of wines, you will surely find the most suitable to accompany your reading and enjoy even more the pleasure of reading. Cheers!

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